EE claims to have taken a major step forward in being the first UK operator to launch 5G in lab tests with Huawei
EE and Huawei have conducted the UK’s first ever end-to-end test of a 5G network and claim to have taken a “huge step forward” to fulfill the operator’s ambition of being the first in the country to launch 5G.
The test was conducted at EE’s lab and is seen as significant because it used a fully virtualised 5G core network and commercial off-the-shelf hardware.
The partners achieved speeds of 2.8Gbps, as well as sub-5ms latency, using 64×64 MIMO and 100MHz worth of 3.5GHz test spectrum. This connected EE’s virtualised core network with the Huawei 5G baseband unit.
EE and Huawei are demonstrating the test at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum this week.
“We’re using our experience in cutting edge 4G technologies and our dedicated partnership approach to ensure technology leadership in 5G,” said Tom Bennett, EE Director of Network Services & Devices. “The network architecture we’ve proven today is a huge step forward, and will drive our ambitious rollout timetable to be first for 5G.”
It is expected that the first commercial 5G networks will go live in 2020, but just as with 4G, there is the possibility that the launch of 5G could be scuppered by legal challenges.
EE was the first UK mobile operator to launch 4G in 2012, but only after delays to the auction of spectrum caused by arguments about a reserved amount of bandwidth for a fourth operator.
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This time round, it is the idea of a spectrum cap that could derail proceedings. Three has challenged Ofcom’s proposed limit, claiming it is too low, while EE has also complained, arguing it is too high.
The government wants the UK to be a 5G leader and earlier this year backed a £16 million test network to be built by three major universities, while DCMS announced a £25 million fund to promote development.
5G networks are widely expected they to offer significant upgrades on speed, capacity and latency.